Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Beach Bum

Key West (Philosopher Poet)

Like with muscle memory carrying over to button-functions on a controller when you go one sequel deep — let's say, Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom — it's best to check in on Korine's The Beach Bum [2019] following the aesthetic lessons of Spring Breakers. HK understands that a movie — especially one called The Beach Bum — generally never lives up to the title-activated expectations. Korine also understands, as he's frequently noted in recent interviews around Aggro Dr1ft, that a movie doesn't need a plot per se, rather it requires a vibe, something you put on in the background on repeat, like with Belly, Heat, or Miami Vice. Cuts back up in a completely different location for the counter-counter-shot; take, for example, Moondog (Matthew McConaughey at his best) on the phone with his wife Minnie (Isla Fisher), one sequence among a dozen that go on long, a continuous conversation played over a Key West-multiverse, just so you can zone into the atmosphere enhanced by John Debney's (The Passion of the Christ, Spy Kids) Jon Brion'y score. 

The Beach Bum taps into a dramaturgic ideal of mine, which is to say, aside from 'dangerous threats' and setups for conflict, there's really no drama, no end boss. Just a guy in a wheelchair getting knocked out and robbed by Flicker (Zac Efron) and Moondog. To quote a different number from the modern Dylan canon: "It's all good." (I'm consistently dazzled by the "Is That All There Is" and "Sundown" tracts.)

The end finds Moondog on a barge with his newly acquired cash set aflame, blanketing the gathered crowds — key image of the current American cinema, and a lit-year away from the climaxes of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Killing.

Moondog's making that index-finger gesture again, like: "Hold on now..." — Here's a pair of his poems from the collection Key Zest:

"There she is. She has great shapes

And her cargo is $46 million."


"You know what I want to do?

I want to have a big fucking fireworks show.

Invite all my friends from the Keys.

None of that sparkler bullshit

that impresses lesbians, pregnant women,

and babies. No, no. Let us Valhalla

this motherfucker.

You know what I mean?

Raise the dead!"


Other writing at Cinemasparagus on Harmony Korine:


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